Professor Richard Bull

Job: Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Technology, Professor in Energy and Behaviour Change

Faculty: Technology

School/department: School of Engineering and Sustainable Development

Research group(s): Institute of Energy & Sustainable Development (IESD)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH UK

T: +44 (0)116 207 8063




Personal profile

Having completed a BA (Hons) and Masters in Theology at the London School of Theology (affiliated with Middlesex University), Richard moved to Nottingham and worked for six years at a large family owned aerospace engineering company in North Nottinghamshire. During this time he studied part-time for an MBA at Nottingham Business School, focusing on corporate social responsibility and environmental management. Richard went on to study for a PhD at the University of Birmingham under Professor Judith Petts. An ESRC Case award with Veolia, it looked at the role of business in society through an examination of whether public engagement and deliberative processes can generate ‘social learning’ and environmental citizenship.

Now a Professor in Energy and Behaviour Change and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Technology Richard splits his time between supporting the PVC Dean in helping to lead the Faculty and leading two EU H2020 projects. He has been a Principal Investigator and Co-investigator on a range of EPSRC, EU and JISC projects totalling over £4.5 million exploring the use of energy in non-domestic buildings and organisations. A recurring theme of his research is the need to move beyond feedback to explore innovative participatory methods of engagement in order to enhance environmental citizenship.

He is currently PI on two H2020 EU projects looking at ICT, energy and buildings. The first, SAVES2 ( is a follow up project to SAVES with the National Union of Students, looking at the role of energy dashboards in reducing energy consumption on Universities across Europe. The second, eTeacher (  is also researching the role of ICT enabled behaviour change to reduce energy consumption in buildings across Europe. He is an expert advisor on the H2020 Smart Cities project Remourban ( and an Associate Editor of Energy Research and Social Science. 

Research group affiliations

Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)

Publications and outputs 

  • Carbon Management Planning in UK Universities: A Journey to Low Carbon Built Environment
    Carbon Management Planning in UK Universities: A Journey to Low Carbon Built Environment Mazhar, Muhammad; Bull, R.; Lemon, Mark; Ahmad, S. B. S. Climate change and increasing carbon emissions are the biggest challenges for the modern world. Organisations are facing increasing pressure from governments and stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions. The Higher Education (HE) sector has a huge environmental, social and economic impact. In 2012–13, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) consumed 7.9 billion kWh of energy and emitted 2.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions, which strengthens the role of universities in implementing carbon management for a low carbon built environment. The HE sector is not exempt from implementing carbon management strategies and respond to the UK government’s Climate Change Act by developing its own targets in England, which are in line with the national targets—80% reduction by 2050 and 34% by 2020 from the 1990 baseline. This indicates the scale of the challenge to implement carbon management through effective planning procedures. The aim of this paper is to explore the key elements of the carbon management planning process in UK universities and identify potential areas of improvements. This exploratory study adopted a qualitative and inductive research approach. The data were collected through the content analysis of eighteen universities’ carbon management plans (CMPs). The study found that key elements of carbon management planning are senior management leadership, carbon footprinting, carbon reduction targets, stakeholder engagement, funding and resources, governance and evaluation and reporting. Universities have shown policy commitment and developed CMPs for implementation, but the performance of universities varies significantly. There is also a disconnect between planning and delivery. The findings of this research show that CMPs can be valuable tools to assist universities in their carbon management journey. However, weaknesses are identified in the current design of CMPs, for example, overly focusing on the technical issues of carbon management (to the detriment of socio-technical factors), unsupportive of stakeholder engagement, not aligned with core policies and strategies and being static documents. CMPs are not comprehensive with regard to the operational boundary of carbon emissions and need standard approach for measuring, targeting and reporting. This study will be useful to academics and practitioners aiming to improve carbon management planning in universities and other organisations.
  • Competing priorities: Lessons in engaging students to achieve energy savings in universities.
    Competing priorities: Lessons in engaging students to achieve energy savings in universities. Bull, R.; Stuart, Graeme; Everitt, Dave; Jennings, N; Romanowicz, J.; Laskari, M This paper presents findings from an EU funded international student-led energy saving competition (SAVES) on a scale previously unseen. There are multiple accounts of short-term projects and energy saving competitions encouraging pro-environmental behaviour change amongst students in university dormitories but the purpose of this research is to provide evidence of consistent and sustained energy savings from student-led energy savings competitions, underpinned by practical action. A mixed methods approach (pre- and post- intervention surveys, focus groups and analysis of energy meter data) was taken to determine the level of energy savings and quantifiable behaviour change delivered by students across participating university dormitories. This research has provided further insight into the potential for savings and behaviour change in university dormitories through relatively simple actions. Whilst other interventions have shown greater savings, this project provided consistent savings over two years 7% across a large number of university dormitories in five countries through simple behaviour changes. An energy dashboard displaying near a real-time leaderboard was added to the engagement in the second year of the project. Whilst students were optimistic about the role that energy dashboards could play, the evidence is not here to quantify the impact of dashboards. Further research is required to understand the potential of dashboards to contribute to behavioural change savings and in constructing competitions between people and dormitories that are known to each other. SAVES provided engagement with students, enabling, empowering and motivating them to save energy – focusing specifically on the last stage of the ‘Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action’ framework. Automated meter reading data was used in the majority of participating dormitories to run near real-time energy challenges through an energy dashboard that informed students how much energy they saved compared to a target, and encouraged peer-to-peer learning and international cooperation through a virtual twinning scheme. Findings from energy saving competitions in universities are typically from small-scale and short-term interventions. SAVES was an energy-saving competition in university dormitories facilitated by the UK National Union of Students in five countries reaching over 50,000 students over two academic years (incorporating dormitories at 17 universities). As such it provides clear and important evidence of the real-world long-term potential efficiency savings of such interventions. open access article
  • Critical success factors for embedding carbon management in organisations: Lessons from the UK higher education sector.
    Critical success factors for embedding carbon management in organisations: Lessons from the UK higher education sector. Mahzar, Muhammad; Bull, R.; Lemon, Mark Organizations are under increasing pressure from governments and stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions from their business operations for climate change mitigation. Universities are not exempt from this challenge and are operating in a complex external environment, not least responding to the UK government’s Climate Change Act 2008 (80% carbon reductions by 2050 as per 1990 baseline). In 2012–2013, the UK Higher Education (HE) sector consumed 7.9 billion kWh of energy and produced 2.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions. This indicates the scale of the challenge and carbon management is central to reduce carbon emissions. However, effective processes for implementing and embedding carbon management in organizations in general, and universities in particular, have yet to be realized. This paper explores the critical success factors (CSFs) for embedding carbon management in universities and, more widely, in organizations. This exploratory study adopted a mixed-methods approach including the content analysis of universities’ carbon management plans alongside semi-structured interviews in the UK HE sector. The paper identifies six key factors for successfully embedding carbon management that are pertinent not just for the HE sector, but to organizations broadly: senior management leadership; funding and resources; stakeholder engagement; planning; governance and management; and evaluation and reporting. open access article
  • Planning Ahead? An Exploratory Study of South Korean Investigators Beliefs About Their Planning for Investigative Interviews of Suspects
    Planning Ahead? An Exploratory Study of South Korean Investigators Beliefs About Their Planning for Investigative Interviews of Suspects Kim, J.; Walsh, D.; Bull, R.; Bergstrom, H. Preparation and planning has been argued to be vitally important as to how effectively investigators undertake their interviews with suspects. Yet, it has also been found in previous research that investigators admit that they plan only occasionally, often attributing insufficient time as a reason for not undertaking the task. Employing a novel research paradigm that utilised theoretical foundations concerning planning, the present study explored empirically 95 South Korean financial crime investigators’ views, using a selfadministered questionnaire. With the use of secondgeneration statistical modelling, an understanding was developed of the relative relationships between various concepts (which had themselves emerged from an established theoretical framework of planning that had been further extended to accommodate the context of the present study). The study found that perceived time pressures actually showed a very low association with interview planning. Rather, investigators’ self-belief as to their own capability alongside workplace culture was each found to have stronger associations with investigators’ intentions to plan for their interviews. As such, we argue that there should be more focus on improving occupational culture relating to interview planning, while developing training programs that identify, evaluate, and enhance investigators’ planning skills. Implications for practice are therefore discussed. Open access article. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link
  • Beyond feedback: introducing the 'engagement gap' in organizational energy management
    Beyond feedback: introducing the 'engagement gap' in organizational energy management Bull, R.; Janda, K. This paper discusses socio-technical relationships between people, organizations and energy in workplaces. Inspired by Sherry Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation, it explores widening energy management beyond energy managers to other employees, introducing the idea of an ‘engagement gap’ to support a move beyond unidirectional forms of engagement (e.g. feedback and nudging) to more socially interactive processes. Results are drawn from two projects researching energy practices in public authorities and retail organizations. The first project, ‘GoodDeeds’, collaboratively created an information and communication technology tool and explored participatory processes within a municipality. The second project, Working with Infrastructure, Creation of Knowledge, and Energy strategy Development (WICKED), explored energy management in retail companies. The paper uses a ‘4Cs’ framework to articulate the influences of concerns, capacities and technical conditions within organizational communities. The results concur with previous research that energy management sits against a backdrop of competing organizational, institutional and political concerns. New data reveal discrepancies across organizations with regard to energy management capacities and technical metering conditions. The authors suggest employee engagement can be broadened by treating energy as a communal subject for discussion, negotiation and partnership. This objective moves beyond the ‘information-deficit’ approach intrinsic in the existing focus on analytics, dashboards and feedback. open access article
  • How can the process of adopting energy management in organisations inform water management practice?
    How can the process of adopting energy management in organisations inform water management practice? Bull, R.; Lemon, Mark; Perry, D.; Azennoud, M. Energy and water are interconnected natural resources and are vital utilities utilised by organisations to enable their business delivery. Managing these resources within the United Kingdom ‘UK’ is currently focused on energy management with a small or neglected focus on water management in non-domestic buildings. This paper explores, through an overview of energy management policy, energy management practice, the water market and supported by a case study, the reasons for which the adoption of energy management should be encouraged in order to stimulate greater water management activity amongst organisations. The case study of Northamptonshire County Council is presented in order to illustrate energy management and water management activity in a high performing ISO50001:2011 organisation, demonstrating the authority’s current approach to implementing water management and water efficiency projects. Results of this study show that, first, water management can be linked to energy management via the low emissions target for the UK. Second, that the lessons learned from the adoption of energy management by organisations are transferrable, and support a wider adoption of water management: i.e. policy enforcement, funding opportunities for water efficiency projects, etc. This is an Open Access journal.
  • Community Engagement as a Tool to help deliver Smart City Innovation: A Case Study of Nottingham, United Kingdom.
    Community Engagement as a Tool to help deliver Smart City Innovation: A Case Study of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Mazhar, M.; Kaveh, B.; Sarshar, M.; Bull, R.; Fayez, R. Cities are complex urban conurbations and facing many challenges. The majority of the world’s population now live in cities and consume 80 % of the resources. ‘Smart City’ innovation is emerging as a major response to the challenges cities are facing. Much of the focus remains on technological interventions, but technology alone may not be sufficient to reach smart and sustainable city goals. Cities are made up of people who have influence and are therefore key stakeholders in the development of smart city innovation and cannot be ignored. This paper aims to explore community engagement in Nottingham to help deliver smart city innovation and the way Nottingham City Council is engaging local communities in its smart projects. The paper analyses the community engagement strategy of Nottingham developed as part of the EU funded smart city project, REMOURBAN (REgeneration MOdel for accelerating the smart URBAN transformation). The main drivers and barriers to effective community engagement are identified in the smart city context. This exploratory study adopted a case study strategy and qualitative research methods. The data was collected through thirteen semi-structured interviews with middle and senior managers in Nottingham City Council and other stakeholder organisations in the city and a focus group of five community leaders from three local community groups. The content analysis of the REMOURBAN documents related to citizen engagement and the council’s energy strategies and policies was carried out. The key results are discussed with recommendations to nurture effective community engagement as a smart city tool and conclusions are drawn.
  • Smart energy management for non-domestic buildings: Case studies of two local authorities in the UK
    Smart energy management for non-domestic buildings: Case studies of two local authorities in the UK Azzenoud, Marouane; Stuart, Graeme; Bull, R.; Lemon, Mark; Perry, D. The use of smart meters has increased since the beginning of the 21st century. The UK government, for example, has recently initiated a programme of rolling out 53 million smart electricity and gas meters for homes and small businesses by 2020 with the expectation that €20 billion will be saved on energy bills over the coming 15 years. The UK’s mass deployment of smart meters has resulted in Local Authorities experiencing additional costs from their installation in their non-domestic buildings, including the costs of new data collection and reporting systems. As a consequence, energy managers are increasingly being forced to consider the ideal frequency for collecting and reporting energy data, appropriate methods for processing that data and the need to rely on ‘real-time’ energy data when there are several other ways in which energy data can be accessed (bills, direct readings, etc.). Finally, what are the realistic expectations about the financial savings attributable to the installation of smart meters? This paper seeks to address these questions through two case studies which examine the effects of the smart meter roll-out programme on two separate UK Local Authorities, Northamptonshire County Council and Leicester City Council.
  • Developing a scale to measure the presence of possible prejudicial stereotyping in police interviews with suspects: The Minhas Investigative Interviewing Prejudicial Stereotyping Scale
    Developing a scale to measure the presence of possible prejudicial stereotyping in police interviews with suspects: The Minhas Investigative Interviewing Prejudicial Stereotyping Scale Minhas, Rashid; Bull, R.; Walsh, D. If police interviewers’ hold negative feelings towards certain groups, this may affect how they interview them (either as victims, witnesses or suspects) in that they may not obtain reliable accounts, being the aim of such interviews. The Minhas Investigative Interviewing Prejudicial Stereotyping Scale (MIIPSS) has been developed to assess the level of any investigative interviewers’ prejudicial stereotyping towards suspects. The current exploratory study involved semi-structured interviews with twenty people, who had previously been interviewed as suspects in England and also eight very experienced lawyers. Both their views were measured using the MIIPSS before being subjected to a Guttman analysis. Statistical analyses showed that MIIPSS satisfies the criteria for classification as a valid unidimensional and cumulative scale. Therefore, researchers could use MIIPSS as a tool to measure prejudicial stereotyping in investigative interviews. Interviewers could also use MIIPSS to monitor their own attitudes towards certain groups or individuals suspected of different types of crimes.
  • Social Media, Participation, and Citizenship: New Strategic Directions
    Social Media, Participation, and Citizenship: New Strategic Directions Bull, R.; Pianosi, M. Social media is a worldwide phenomenon with applications like Facebook and Twitter credited with everything from Obama’s 2008 election victory to the Arab Spring. But alongside claims of a social media inspired ‘revolution’ lay more nuanced questions around the role and impact of digital tools, smartphones, and social media in ‘every day’ contexts. The chapter discusses the role and impact of social media in organisations through two case studies where social media and digital technologies were used to increase energy awareness and environmental citizenship within organisations. Encouraging findings are presented that show the potential of such tools to facilitate change within individuals and organisations yet a cautionary note is offered with regards implementing and measuring such campaigns. Results from the interviews are discussed revealing how claims of social media on participation can be tested, and recommendations offered on how to design interventions for future social media and environmental communication initiatives.

Click here for a full listing of Richard Bull's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

  • Bull, R.J, Chang, N., & Fleming, P. (2012) The use of building energy certificates to reduce energy consumption in European public buildings, Energy and Buildings 50, p103-110.
  • Bull, R. J & J. Petts et al (2010) – The importance of context for effective public engagement: Learning from the governance of waste. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 53 (8): 991-1009
  • Bull, R., J. Petts, et al. (2008). "Social Learning from Public Engagement: Dreaming the impossible?" Journal of Environmental Management and Planning 51(5): 703-718.

Research interests/expertise

  • Sustainability
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Public Engagement
  • Behaviour Change
  • Energy visualisation
  • Green ICT
  • Digital Economy
  • Green Business

Areas of teaching

  • Module Leader: Green Business (MSc EIS).
  • Deputy Module Leader: People society and Climate Change (MSc Climate Change and Sustainable Development).



Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham (ESRC funded CASE Award between University of Birmingham and Veolia Environmental Services)



Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University


MA Theology

London School of Theology, Brunel University


BA (Hons) Theology (2:1)

London School of Theology, Brunel University



Honours and awards

  • Awarded RCUK Research Fellowship May 2009 - Sept 2010

Conference attendance

  • Presented at the ‘The 3rd All Hands Meeting of the Digital Economy Community’ (RCUK funded Digital Economy Group) in Aberdeen in Oct 2012.
  • Invited expert to ‘West Midlands Regional Sustainability Advisor’ event “Sustainability: a different approach” 18th April 2012. Talk entitled: Greenview – understanding consumption of buildings across campus using a smartphone.
  • Presented at the EAUC annual conference in York (April 2011): Scope 3 – moving beyond the estates office.
  • Greenview – Seeing Energy Differently – Led a Workshop at ‘The 2nd All Hands Meeting of the Digital Economy Community’ (RCUK funded Digital Economy Group) Nov.
  • Invited expert to the Institute of Building Efficiency Workshop (Brussels): Scenarios for Nearly/Net Zero Energy Buildings (14th Sept 2011).
  • Invited participant at the UACES 3rd Collaborative Research Network (Angers, France) – presented on the Governance of Sustainability (21st-22nd July).
  • Invited expert to the JISC Sustainable Procurement Conference in May 2011.
  • Consultant to a JISC funded project with the University of Oxford (May-Oct 2011).
  • Invited expert to the European Union Sustainable Energy Week (Brussels - April 13th 2011) on behaviour change and building energy certificates.
  • Chair of the Sustainable ICT Group – advisors to the Expert Reference Group on Climate Change for the Leicester Strategic Partnership.
  • Wrote and developed new Masters module ‘Green Business’ for new IESD MSc Energy and Industrial Sustainability (Sept 2010).
  • Awarded RCUK Research Fellowship May 2009-Sept 2010.
  • Invited expert at the British Science Association’s ‘Science Communication Conference 2010: ‘Imagining a low carbon society’ with Prof. Martin Rieser and Neil Bailey.
  • Peer Reviewer for Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.
  • External Examiner for MSc Risk Management - School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University.
  • Invited expert on communication and public engagement to the third ECO-BUILD workshop on “Increasing Energy performance of Buildings” on 10 November 2009 in Brussels.  
  • Invited expert on ‘governance, participation and learning’ at the APSE Policy Seminar Series at Leicester Business School, 9th Feb 2010.

Current research students

Phd enquiries welcome around energy and behaviour change, engagement, sustainability with regards to organisations and universities. 

Successful Phd Completions

Monica Pianosi – Enhancing environmental citizenship and reducing energy consumption of building users using social media: a DMU case study. (1st supervisor). 2017.

Muhammad Mazhar – How higher education sector institutions can strategically manage their carbon emissions from all of their organisational activities? (1st supervisor) 2016.

Maurizio Sajeva - Governance For Sustainable Systems: The Development Of A Participatory Framework. (2nd supervisor). 2016

Jill Fisher - Promoting low carbon lifestyles: addressing informational needs through small group participation (2nd Supervisor) 2013

Carl Holland - Greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies: attitudinal and social network influences on employee acceptability (2nd Supervisor). 2013

Externally funded research grants information

• Principle Investigator for GoodDee2ds – an EPSRC ‘Digital Economy’ project awarded in September 2012. Value: £225,000 – a ‘Research In the Wild’ digital economy research project with Leicester City Council:

• Principle Investigator for ‘PROCO2’ – a JISC funded ‘Greening ICT’ project awarded Jan 2011 (end date April 2012). Value: £124,405. – collaborations with the Estates Department and external partners – Arup.

• Principle Investigator for ‘Greenview’ - a JISC funded ‘Greening ICT’ project awarded Jan 2011. Value: £39,840 – collaborating with Martin Rieser in the IOCT.

• Principle Investigator for ‘DUALL - a JISC funded ‘Greening ICT’ project awarded Jan 2010, completed March 2011. Value: £69,991collaborated internally with Martin Rieser in the IOCT.


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